Well, I’m getting further and further behind, and after the gloriously sunny weekend we’ve just had it seems odd to be writing about a morning walk under a lid of grey skies, with a cold wind and the threat of rain in the afternoon.
After leaving Barbon and passing the bluebell filled wood seen above, a short sharp climb brought me to a small cairned outcrop with a marvellous view of the Lune Valley, Morecambe Bay beyond and, to the south, the edge of the Bowland Fells.
From there the gradient eased and a steady plod…
..took me up to Castle Knott, seen on the skyline here…
Although it’s on the edge of the Dales, this is a very quiet hill. In my experience it’s neighbours Great Coum and Gragareth tend to be pretty deserted too.
From Castle Knott the highest point on the ridge, Calf Top finally comes into view. There’s a fairly striking change in the vegetation somewhere between the two, the grassy slopes of Castle Knott giving way to a mixture of grass and heather. Predictably, the change is marked underfoot too, the ground becoming peaty and waterlogged where the heather holds sway.
From Castle Knott I thought I saw somebody following me up the path, although they were some way behind and I lost sight of them so couldn’t be sure. I could also see a figure on the skyline west of the summit. But they weren’t moving at all. Is it a person? I decided not – perhaps a large cairn?
The views from Calf Top itself are excellent although this wasn’t the best day to enjoy them, both because of the cloud and because the wind was so cold. I had no gloves (silly me) and using the camera was turning my hands red raw and making them surprisingly painful. Could this really be the middle of May? Only the skylarks, whose song I’d heard from the lower slopes, seemed to think that it was really spring.
The top of Whernside, seen over Gragareth, was continually disappearing and reappearing in the cloud. But the views of the Howgills and the hills and valleys to the north were good. To the south I felt that a distant and distinctive hill must be Pendle Hill. I wanted to spread out my map and try to fix some of the hills to the northeast which are less familiar to me, but it was just too windy.
Is this knobble at the end of Dentdale, Great Knoutberry Hill?
Whenever I’ve walked this way before I’ve always used the right of way which traverses the hill in a great arc from southwest to northwest, leaving a lengthy valley walk to return to the start. It’s a nice enough walk, although in the past I’ve found that not all of the valley paths exist on the ground. The fells here are all access land now though, so – time to explore, I thought.
I headed off along the broad tussocky ridge to the west….
Pausing by the little tarns to look back to the top and see the walker who had followed me arrive at the top (having come up much quicker than I had). He or she was the only other walker I saw all day – unless we count the three waxed-jacketed, welly-booted, rifle-toting hunters I saw further down, who had a gaggle of dogs of a strange mixture of breeds with them. (Not all gun-dogs I’d have thought, but then, what do I know?)
I found the very stationary ‘walker’ I had noticed from Castle Knott…
…which curiously, isn’t marked on the OS map. Does that mean that it’s of recent construction?
I’d thought, on looking at the map, that the right of way from the lane end at Mill House briefly passed into the access area. It doesn’t. There’s a very unwelcoming sign pointing out that there is no access through the gateway and advising walkers to consult their maps and return to the rights of way, which would involve quite a hike. I consulted my map and then carefully levitated over the gate and the five yards of driveway necessary to get onto the path I wanted. Millhouse Gill has a few waterfalls and looked like a worthwhile alternative route onto the hill, perhaps combined with an exploration of Ashdale Gill, if only to find out what the ‘Three Little Boys’ marked on the map are.
Of course, now that I know that there’s no right of access here, I’ve put that idea right out of my mind, and I would urge you to do the same, obviously.
Oh….an afterthought: this was another failed bagging trip, at 609m Calf Top just fails to make the 2000 foot criteria for my ‘new’ Nuttall’s book. Damn!